Some of you are going to think this isn’t news, but I want to talk about it anyway. Caster Bananasaurus Rex has completed Spelunky in a Solo Eggplant Run. Don’t know what that means? Come inside. Sit down. Let me explain.
As reported by Eurogamer, here’s the video, which is an hour and twenty-two minutes long. Don’t watch it. I’ll explain why.
Spelunky is a roguelike platformer. It’s arguably the reason why we’re now inundated with new, accessible roguelikes. It was first released as a free, Game Maker-made PC game in 2009, before a console, HD remake updated the art style and added co-op in 2012, and a PC release of that came in August.
Part of Spelunky’s charm – aside from being essentially perfect – is in its secrets. At some point during one of the four levels in each of its four worlds, you’ll encounter a door that will take you to a Black Market, a castle, a spaceship, or the belly of a worm. Inside you’ll find a unique item or a unique character, a reward for daring to enter into even more deadly parts of the game.
That’s just the beginning of the secrets that lie within Spelunky’s deep caves. Every time I talk to someone who has just completed the game – an act that can take thousands of attempts, and dozens or hundreds of hours of learning and practice – they follow it up with a variation on the same sentence. “But I haven’t completed it this way yet.” I haven’t been to the City of Gold yet. I haven’t done a complete Hell run yet. There’s always something more to be accomplished and discovered.
The pinnacle of that, the very peak of madness, is the eggplant. In Spelunky HD, if you sacrifice a still-wrapped mystery box on one of Kali’s altars, you get a purple eggplant. What does it do? Nothing, as far as anyone could tell. The plant was added in Spelunky HD, but it wasn’t until its PC release, and Cheat Engine hacking, that anyone worked it out. It was a secret that lasted over a year, which in a post-GameFAQs world, is a millennia.
I won’t say what it does or the exact process, but it’s long, arduous, and not at all beneficial to players. The challenge became about whether anyone could use it without cheats. Two people did it in co-op and then, even more unlikely, Bananasaurus did it in a solo run. He’s the first person to do so, or at least the first person to do it while recording.
Which, I guess, as far as anyone knows, means that all of Spelunky’s secrets have now been discovered and publicly accomplished. I can’t help but feel a little bit melancholic about that.
When I first started playing Spelunky, there was no community or website around it. There was just a TIGSource forum thread with a download link. When I first reached beyond level four, and reached world two, it was the first time I discovered there was a world two. That slow process of discovery was what hooked me through thousands of miserable, hilarious deaths.
That feeling won’t have been there for most of the people who played its HD incarnation, as trailers, YouTube videos and a larger audience disseminated information everywhere. But there were still secrets to be found for yourself, if you avoided particularly long YouTube videos, and there was still the eggplant, which remained a secret to everyone.
Spelunky is still brilliant. There will still be joy in navigating its rigid, knowable enemies and traps, on top of its unknowable, surprising, procedurally-generated levels. Secrets also exist to be discovered. That’s the fun of them, and it’s thrilling that recent roguelikes – and the likes of Dark Souls – have provided such a rich vein of secrets to be obsessed over. I love that there’s videogame myths. And you don’t have to watch the video above and find out all of Spelunky’s secrets, if you don’t want to. You can go play it instead.
But the eggplant video feels like a full stop on something, and so I wanted to mark it with a post.